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Board honors outstanding students at February meeting

The Board of Education at its Feb. 13 meeting recognized nine Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) students for outstanding achievements in academics, personal responsibility and career readiness.

Those honored included fifth graders Henone Asrat of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, Presley Ferguson of William B. Wade, Anaiah Rogalski of Walter J. Mitchell, Emma Shanbarger of Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer and Janay Turner of Mary B. Neal elementary schools; Mattawoman Middle School eighth grader Chloe Jones; sixth grader Aiden Latimore of Phoenix International School of the Arts (PISOTA); and Farah and Giselle Leblanc, seniors at North Point High School. Asrat, Ferguson and Shanbarger were slated to be recognized at the January Board meeting. Inclement weather caused the meeting format to be changed to virtual, delaying January recognitions to February and March.

Asrat, honored for academic achievement, has attended Dr. Mudd since first grade and has earned recognition for academic achievement and personal responsibility at the school by maintaining honor roll every quarter and consistently demonstrating positive behavioral characteristics, Dr. Mudd’s Principal Portia Parker said. “Henone’s teachers know they can count on her to give 100% always and uphold Dr. Mudd’s three R’s — to be respectful, responsible and ready to learn,” she said. Asrat is described by her teachers as a well-rounded student who is kind, considerate and respectful to all her peers and adults at school. “She is always eager to learn, strives to do her best and shares her gifts and talents with everyone,” Parker said. Asrat participates in Dr. Mudd’s Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) and math teams and is learning to play the flute in band. She is also in the Dr. Mudd Wise Dragon afterschool program. When not in school, Asrat enjoys watching her favorite shows on television and playing with her parakeets. She hopes to become an artist.

At Wade since kindergarten, Ferguson has proven herself an “academic all-star,” Wade Principal William Miller said. “Presley is a very dedicated and hard-working student who will do anything for anybody at any time,” Miller said he has heard from her teachers. “She is the kind of student that puts 100% of herself into any project that she takes on and is not satisfied until it is done to the best of her abilities.” Ferguson was recognized for academic achievement. Her teacher, Ja’Dell Webster said, Ferguson not only strives to do her best, she encourages her classmates to give it their all. “During classroom instruction, Presley will show great compassion for others by assisting her peers,” Webster said. Ferguson said math is one of her favorite subjects because it sparks her creativity and pushes her to think differently. She balances it out by choosing physical education (PE) as her other favorite subject, enjoying playing sports and being part of a team. She sings in the school’s chorus, volunteers in the library, writes for the school newspaper and is a member of the school’s Green Team, a club focused on environmental projects. She is a Girl Scout and enjoys spending time with her family, drawing and catching up on her favorite television shows.

Rogalski has attended Mitchell since first grade and has earned a spot on the principal’s honor roll every quarter. She was identified for gifted services in the third grade and earned a Level 4 on both the third and fourth grade Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP). Rogalski enjoys reading novels, especially those in the realistic fiction genre. Her favorite subject in school is math, which is evident in her participation of 6A math as a fifth grader. Rogalski said she finds math fun, enjoys solving problems in her head and relating them to real world situations. “Anaiah has a quiet but strong spirit and exemplifies showing kindness to others,” Mitchell Principal Diedra Barnett said. “She is quick to help her teachers and classmates and is a wonderful leader in personal responsibility.” She is a member of the safety patrol, the math team and the Men and Women of Mitchell Club. She also serves as an art helper. In the free time that she does have, Rogalski enjoys playing soccer and exploring photography.

Shanbarger routinely earns top marks across all subjects at Jenifer, receiving nearly all A’s on her report cards since the third grade. “Emma's academic achievements highlight her strong work ethic and enthusiasm for learning and ensures her place as a valuable and promising student,” Jenfier Principal Kevin Jackson said. These traits led to her being honored for career readiness. Shanbarger is a member of Jenifer’s math team and plays the trombone in the school band. She is just as busy outside of school spending time swimming, taking guitar lessons and being a Girl Scout. She helps her community and recently participated in a fundraiser to benefit the Oxon Hill Food Pantry.

Neal fifth-grade student Turner was honored for academic achievement.  She has attended Neal since fourth grade and earned a spot on the honor roll every quarter. “She is always an active participant in class and, with her respectful nature, serves as a role model for her classmates and staff alike,” Neal Principal Anthony Carroll said. “Janay is always helpful and is accountable for her actions.” Turner puts 100% into her academics and enjoys working with others. “Janay is very motivated and eager to learn,” Carroll said.

Though only in eighth grade, Jones was recognized for career readiness. She is interested in a career in medicine and as a self-motivated student who routinely achieves honor roll grades, Jones is poised to be successful. “Chloe is always willing to do more than is required,” Mattawoman Principal Sonia Blue said. “She takes great pride in her work and will often self-correct if she does not feel it is her best.” Jones will go out of her way to assist classmates with assignments if she sees them struggling and is a joy to her teachers, Blue said. “She cheerfully greets teachers and friends every morning and she demonstrates kindness throughout the day,” Blue said. “As a result, Chloe is well liked by her peers and Mattawoman staff.”

Throughout his sixth-grade year at Phoenix International School of the Arts (PISOTA), Latimore has been named to the principal’s honor roll. For his top grades, he was honored for academic achievement. PISOTA uses the Cambridge International Lower Secondary Curriculum. “The way that Aiden has embraced it and been extremely successful is just magnificent,” PISOTA Principal R. Demetri Sermons, Ed.D., said. In addition to being enrolled in all honors classes and maintaining an A average, Latimore participates in band as well as the digital literacy and museum studies course at PISOTA. “He is a joy to teach and a genuine support to his fellow students,” Sermons said.

Twin sisters Farah and Giselle Leblanc are seniors at North Point who were recognized for personal responsibility. Their commitment to being excellent students and for making a positive impact on their school community make them standouts, North Point Principal Daniel Kaple said. Both take multiple Advanced Placement (AP) courses, are members of the Student Leadership class and are part of the student group NPNation. Giselle is a member of the varsity swim team and Farah is a member of the orchestra. “It is awesome to see how these two amazing minds embrace learning,” Lora Padilla, English teacher, said. The Leblanc sisters are integral members of student leadership groups, the Academic Eagles and NPNation, and their impact on both groups’ achievements cannot be overstated, Kaple said. “What sets them apart is not only their dedication to contribute but also their humble approach; they seek no recognition despite their invaluable contributions,” Paige Serpone, mathematics teacher, said. “They are key to the success of NPNation,” Michael Serpone, social studies teacher, added. “They are constantly contributing ideas for events — always coming up with cool ideas for spirit days and sporting events and are willing to see that these ideas are implemented and executed.” As a member of the Academic Eagles, Farah is dedicated to fostering inclusivity, promoting unity and creating a sense of belonging among students and staff,” Joseph Burton, mathematics teacher, said. “Giselle is just a natural leader. She makes positive contributions and has great ideas.” While they may be twins, Farah and Giselle are distinct individuals, yet share a common thread in their core values and work ethic, Kaple said. “They embody the quality of selflessness, a trait that distinguishes them within their community. Their infectious positivity, reflected in their ever-present smiles, remains unwavering, regardless of the challenges they may be facing,” he said. “Witnessing their genuine joy and unwavering commitment is a privilege, making them unforgettable members of the student body.”

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,765 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 38 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).